Damni dhokla is served during a Masala Mamas gathering in...

Damni dhokla is served during a Masala Mamas gathering in Syosset. (Sept. 24, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

The New York Masala Mamas is a group of about 20 women who meet regularly to eat and exchange recipes and notes on their lives. Here, they share some recipes with Newsday readers.


PHIRNI (Indian rice pudding)

(From Jiya Chatrath of Port Washington)

1/2 cup white basmati rice

4 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided

1/2 cup white sugar

4 to 5 green cardamom pods shelled and ground with mortar and pestle

For garnish: 1/2 teaspoon saffron (kesar) strands

2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios and almonds

1. Thoroughly rinse rice, put into a bowl and cover with 1 cup water. Soak for 2 hours. Drain all but 1/4 cup water and grind the rice to a fine paste in a blender. Set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan, bring 4 1/4 cups milk to a boil while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon so it does not stick to the bottom. Bring to boil twice more; remove from heat.

3. Add ground rice to the milk slowly, stirring continuously to make sure rice does not become lumpy. The milk will become thick. Return to heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously. Add sugar and cardamom powder and boil 4 to 5 minutes longer over low-medium heat, stirring continuously. When the mixture is the consistency of thick batter, remove from heat.

4. Place in serving bowl while still hot; it will thicken more as it cools. Mix saffron in remaining 2 tablespoons warm milk and pour over pudding as a garnish. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours and serve chilled, garnished with almonds and pistachios.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


MANGO LASSI (Mango yogurt smoothie)

(From Deepa Ipektchi of Dix Hills)

1 cup plain yogurt, low fat or whole milk

1 ripe mango, peeled and pit removed

3 to 4 teaspoons sugar, depending upon sweetness of mango

3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes 1 serving.


TANDOORI-STYLE CHICKEN (Marinated spiced baked chicken)

(From Sonia Banani of Manhasset Hills)

20 pieces skinless chicken, drumsticks and thighs

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon garam masala, available in Indian markets

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic paste, available in Indian and Asian markets

2 teaspoons ginger paste, available in Indian and Asian markets

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling pan, divided

3 tablespoons tandoori chicken masala, a dried spice mixture available in Indian markets

1 cup low-fat or whole-milk yogurt

1. Wash and dry chicken pieces and cut small slits in the meat to absorb seasoning.

2. Place chicken in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients (except extra oil to oil pan). Mix thoroughly; cover and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a large baking pan or 2 small pans and arrange chicken pieces. Bake about 45 minutes, turning once.

Makes about 10 servings.


ALOO TIKKI STUFFED WITH PANEER (potato patties stuffed with Indian farmer cheese)

(From Madhu Shroff of Sands Point)

2 pounds potatoes, boiled and mashed

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 green chili (available in Indian markets) or jalapeño, minced, divided

1 teaspoon cumin powder, lightly roasted in a dry pan

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

3/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided

1/4 cup finely chopped red onions, divided

1/2 pound paneer (Indian farmer cheese), crumbled

Canola oil for shallow frying

1/2 cup finely grated daikon radish

Green chutney (available in Indian grocery stores)

Tamarind chutney (available in Indian grocery stores)

1. For the stuffed tikkis, place potatoes in a bowl add salt to taste, red chili powder, lemon juice, 3/4 of the minced green or jalapeño chilies, cumin powder, coriander powder, grated ginger, 1/4 cup cilantro and half the minced onion. Mix well.

2. Place crumbled paneer in another bowl, add salt to taste, 1/4 cup cilantro and mix well

3. Apply oil on palms of hands and divide the potato mixture into 14 equal portions. Make a dent in the center of each portion and stuff with a tablespoon of paneer mixture. Seal the edges and shape into a circular flat tikki (patty).

4. Pour in oil to come up about 1/4 inch in a nonstick pan and shallow fry the tikkis a few at a time till crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

5. For radish mixture, mix grated radish with remaining minced green chilies, onions, cilantro and salt to taste. Reserve to use as garnish.

6. Serve hot topped with 1 teaspoon each green chutney and tamarind chutney. Garnish with grated radish mixture.

Makes about 14 tikkis, or 7 servings.


PANEER MAKHANI (Indian farmer cheese in spiced tomato cream sauce)

(From Ena Johar of Oyster Bay Cove)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, diced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

12 green cardamom pods

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

2 1/2 teaspoons red chili powder

18 large fresh tomatoes, peels and all, pureed

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup clarified butter

2 teaspoons ground kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), available at Indian markets

1/2 cup heavy cream

12 ounces paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Place a nonstick saucepan over medium high heat and add the oil. Saute onions about 15 to 20 minutes, or until fully browned and water has evaporated.

2. Add the cumin and cardamom seeds and saute 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté another minute. Stir in chili powder.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato puree and salt and cook for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes and tomato puree mixture are combined. Add 3/4 cup water and stir well.

4. Add butter and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes

5. Add the fenugreek (kasoori methi); stir and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and cook 2 minutes.

6. Add the paneer and stir gently.

Makes about 4 servings.



(From Ekta Patel of Syosset)

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango pulp

1/2 cup plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)

2 whole dried red chilies

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

4 to 5 Indian curry leaves, available at Indian markets

Salt to taste

1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon lime juice

Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish

1. Blend the mango pulp, yogurt and 1/2 cup of water in a blender.

2. Heat oil and ghee in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Add red chilies, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Lower heat and let the seeds pop.

3. Once the seeds stop popping, add the mango-yogurt mixture to the pan, along with 1 1/2 cups water. Add salt, ginger and lime juice. Simmer on low heat for about 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with either rice or roti. If refrigerating for more than a few hours, remove whole dried red chilies.

Makes about 4 servings.


SPINACH RAITA (spiced spinach yogurt dip)

(From Sonika Nanda of Manhasset)

1 (8-ounce) bag uncooked spinach, chopped

1 (32-ounce) container low-fat or whole milk yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

Pinch red chili powder or paprika

2 teaspoons oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

7 to 8 curry leaves

4 to 5 dried red chilies

1 green chili (available at Indian groceries; jalapeño can be substituted)

Small clove garlic, finely chopped

Pinch turmeric

1. Boil spinach in plenty of water. Cook about a minute and drain all water. Allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, beat yogurt with 1/4 cup water. Add salt, pepper, cumin powder, chili powder or paprika to taste.

3. In a heavy saucepan pan heat oil over low and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, red and green chilies and garlic. Cover with a lid as mustard seeds pop. When spices darken, add turmeric. Remove from heat.

4. Add cooled spinach to spiced yogurt and stir evenly. Take sauteed chili mixture and add to spinach-yogurt mixture, being sure to stir up remainder of pan's contents by adding a few teaspoons of yogurt and mixing. Stir everything together and serve as a dip or as an accompaniment to a main dish.

Makes about 6 servings.

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